Future Music Blender (2000)


The Future Music Blender is a permanent exhibit at the Haus der Musik in Vienna. It was designed to complement Tod Machover's Brain Opera, and provide an experience where users could collectively explore and shape sounds.

The room of the exhibit resembles the inside of a string instrument and is filled with several thousand colorful, hand-sized chips. Each chip holds a specific sound snippet, and is colored according to the type of sound (e.g., percussion, voice, string sounds). At stations around the room, visitors plug in the chips, listen to the sounds, and modify them. The chip remembers the changes for the next visitor. At one station, visitors add their modified sounds to a large virtual instrument. This instrument-displayed as a two-dimensional grid-is projected onto the wall and played with hand gestures, much like those a conductor might use. Visitors can then explore how individual sound snippets can become musical through repetition and rhythm.

I worked with Brian Knep, who created the visual displays for the grid and chip stations. The Austrian architects Propeller Z designed the room which housed the exhibit. I implemented the audio archictecture for the grid as well as drivers for processing electric field sensor data used to determine 3D hand position. These coordinates are then mapped to sounds in the virtual grid. Higher-level hand gestures are also analyzed and translated into musical changes or audio effects.



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Last modified: 2 January 2007